Arnold Schwarzenegger Says Those Turning Masks Into a 'Political Issue' Are 'Absolute Morons'

"If we all wear masks, we slow down the spread and can reopen safely," the former California governor said of continuing to wear face coverings amid the pandemic

Michael Stewart/FilmMagic
Arnold Schwarzenegger. Photo: Michael Stewart/FilmMagic

Arnold Schwarzenegger is emphasizing the importance of wearing face coverings during the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom made it mandatory for residents to wear masks while in public. The stricter measure came as the state has seen an uptick in positive cases in recent days as many communities have begun to reopen.

"Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered, putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease," Newsom said Thursday, according to CNN.

Schwarzenegger — a Republican who was the governor of California from 2003 to 2010 — backed up Newsom on the public health order.

"This is 100 percent the right move," the Terminator actor, 72, tweeted on Thursday. "This will help us beat this terrible virus. The science is unanimous — if we all wear masks, we slow down the spread and can reopen safely."

"It’s not a political issue," Schwarzenegger continued. "Anyone making it a political issue is an absolute moron who can’t read."

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Per guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, masks are essential in helping to slow the spread of the respiratory virus. Experts remind people to be sure both their mouth and nose are securely covered when wearing them in public.

"Cloth face coverings may prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading respiratory droplets when talking, sneezing, or coughing," according to the guidelines. "If everyone wears a cloth face covering when out in public, such as going to the grocery store, the risk of exposure ... can be reduced for the community."

"Since people may spread the virus before symptoms start, or even if people never have symptoms," the informational notice continues, "wearing a cloth face covering may protect others around you. Face coverings worn by others may protect you from getting the virus from people carrying the virus."

RELATED VIDEO: Arnold Schwarzenegger Recruits His Mini Pony and Donkey to Help Encourage People to 'Stay Home'

In a recent study, researchers in Canada and Lebanon reviewed 172 studies from 16 different countries about different measures that reduce the spread of COVID-19, finding that masks and social distancing are indeed effective in slowing the spread.

Their findings, published in the medical journal Lancet, provided “clarity” that social distancing and mask-wearing was making a difference, study co-author Dr. Derek Chu, a clinical scholar of medicine at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, told Today, despite pushback from some Americans who don’t want to wear a mask.

Overall though, Chu said, these preventive measures are not 100-percent effective, and need to be combined with proper hygiene. "No single intervention on its own made an individual completely impervious to transmission," he said. "We can’t neglect basic measures such as hand hygiene."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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